After a lengthy process of consultation Scottish Screen has announced a new Cinema Exhibition Strategy designed to extend the reach and diversity of films available to Scottish audiences.

The core of the strategy is the development of 'cultural cinema hubs' strategically placed around the country. Each one will serve as a centre of support and services to a network of organisations ranging from smaller cinemas to community groups and film societies.

There are expected to be four hubs at cultural cinemas currently operational in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, one of which will assume responsibility for rural and remote areas.

Scottish Screen has shown a long-term commitment to initiatives that increase access for audience in remote areas not currently served by cinemas. The Scottish Executive recently announced funding of $979,391 (£500,000) for a third, digitally equipped 100-seat Screen Machine mobile cinema that will serve the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and is expected to be operational by 2009.

Scottish Screen has also emphasised its commitment to digital distribution and exhibition. It plans to work with cinemas, film festivals and the UK Film Council to develop digital cinema across Scotland and will make Lottery funds available for this purpose. The future support and development of the Edinburgh International Film Festival is cited as a key element of the strategy with Scottish Screen 'keen to see it become a hub for film festivals across Scotland.'

The challenge for the strategy lies in balancing the centralisation inherent in creating cultural hubs with the need to encourage and support the creativity and confidence of events that already flourish across the land, especially in a country that can point to the growing success and audience numbers recorded by the likes of the Inverness Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival and annual UK-wide French and Italian Festivals that originate in Scotland.

The strategy was broadly welcomed by key figures in the Scottish exhibition sector who felt it consolidates much of the work that is already being done. Scottish Screen claim that a $1.9m (£1m) will be invested to ensure that the strategy is fully implemented by April 2008.